Tuesday, 21 August 2018

punky brewster

While there’s no definitive link between the stereotypical image of a witch and the business attire, signpost and shingle of the medieval alewives (braciatrix, brewess, brewster) that dominated beer brewing as a cottage industry from Antiquity to the early Middle Ages does certainly seem to inform the Western world’s conception with the distinguishing calling-cards of a tall, pointy hat, cauldron, broomstick and a feline familiar.
Despite inconclusive scholarship and myriad neighbourhood jealousies that can set off a flurry of accusations, that men—seeing a business opportunity and wanting to dispose of the competition, would resort to calling their established counterparts enchantresses and in league with the Devil does not surprise. The first outbreaks of the Plague across Europe caused significant shifts in the production of beer and spirits, taking it out of the home and making it a larger scale enterprise, often under the charter of the Church and a venture for monasteries to make beer to standard and making independent women entrepreneurs more and more marginalised. An empowered beer wench could certainly push a man to behave below his station, driving him to make poor choices and spend all his money on drink, and once women were forced to abandon their craft brew, they maintained their treacherous wiles by more unnatural means.

Monday, 20 August 2018

pražská jar

Fifty years ago, the reform efforts of the government of Czechoslovakia were brought to a standstill and reversed with the invasion of the Soviet Union with the materiel support from three other Warsaw Pact nations, with some two-hundred thousand troops and two thousand tanks and the arrest of First Secretary Alexander Dubček who spearheaded the movement known as the Prague Spring.
Over time, a half a million troops would occupy the country, advancing from beyond the country’s borders after an ostensibly successful round of negotiations concluded earlier in the month, coming an unexpected shock to the people of Czechoslovakia who believed that their interpretation of socialism, a mixed system that held protections for individual freedoms of expression might be the way forward. The Soviets saw the push for political liberalisation and move towards decentralisation of economic and foreign policy as a threat to the Eastern Bloc’s cohesion as a unified front against bourgeois values.

baby’s on fire

Duck Soup directs our attention to an interesting meta-study whose aim is to explore the notion of a winning-streak and whether or not there’s something to idea of success having momentum.
I’ve been wondering myself about the more accustomed inertia of regression and how much of a boost one win can give one to persevere—which to a degree makes sense as a universal truth but research inserts factor chance back into the equation, demonstrating that perhaps counterintuitively that successes come at random intervals. Surveying the careers of thousands through the lens of one of the biggest winning-streaks of science, Albert Einstein’s prolific Annus Mirabilis (previously here, here and here), researchers found that despite the overarching random nature of when fortune visits, back-to-back triumphs do indeed seem to occur and accrue in all fields.

canonical consent

Though possibly polyandrous on the actress’ part in light of her earlier, coerced nuptials with Betelgeuse, we learn that the co-stars of the 1992 Francis Ford Coppula adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula—Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder—might have actually been married during the movie’s production.  Shot in Romania, the ceremony was reportedly presided over by an authentic priest who may or may not have understood his role on set. While the likelihood of a marriage considered legal and binding without the backing of substantiating documents strikes one as the stuff of sitcom tropes, it’s nonetheless a fun bit of trivia to consider and speculate if there are instances of fictional matrimony having legal consequence.